Toronto: Canada looks poised to take a turn to the right on Monday, when elections are widely expected to end more than 12 years of Liberal Government and bring to power a Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, known for his opposition to the Kyoto accord on global warming and his support for U.S. President George W. Bush's missile defence scheme.
Prime Minister and Liberal leader Paul Martin has insisted he will stage a comeback, but most analysts said he had a mountain to climb by Monday in the wake of a serious corruption scandal and a string of campaign gaffes.
Pollsters say Mr. Harper has succeeded so far by repositioning himself from the right wing of his party to a more centrist position, but his policies differ markedly from Mr. Martin's in a few important areas, particularly foreign policy. If he emerges as winner, Mr. Harper will almost certainly prove a more amenable neighbour for Mr. Bush. He has been supportive of the Iraq war, and dismissive of the Kyoto accord and its mandatory limits on emissions. Mr. Harper, like Mr. Bush, prefers a voluntary approach. He may not formally take Canada out of the agreement, but would do little to push it forward.
Mr. Harper has also said he would reopen negotiations with the U.S. on joining the planned missile defence system, the successor to Ronald Reagan's ``Star Wars'' project, intended to provide an umbrella against ballistic missile attack.
At home, Mr. Harper would seek to take Canada to the right on some emotive social issues. He will ask the Parliament in Ottawa to vote again on gay marriage, which it legalised last June.
- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006